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Poland to unveil Jewish memorial

JEDWABNE, Poland -- A controversial memorial is to be unveiled marking the deaths of Jews in a Polish town during World War II.

Nazis had been blamed for the 1941 Jedwabne massacre until last year when a new book published in New York indicated Poles may have been responsible for the deaths.

Now many Poles in Jedwabne are refusing to attend the unveiling ceremony as they insist it was Nazis who carried out the killings, and Jews are unhappy saying the memorial does not explicitly blame Poles for the deaths.

Some representatives of the victims' families will attend the ceremony in the small northeastern town of Poland on July 10.

The book, written by historian Jan Tomasz Gross, called Neighbours alleged that people living in Jedwabne had been responsible for the massacre of 1,600 local Jews during World War II.

Neighbours says that a mob butchered much of the local Jewish population before rounding up the rest in a large barn which was then set alight.

Post-war evidence had always indicated that German Nazis had been directly responsible for the killings during their occupation of Poland.

No official town or school delegations will attend the ceremony and the local Roman Catholic priest plans to stay at home.

Edward Orlowski told Reuters he would not be going because "it's all lies and I will not take part in lies."

Polls show 50 percent of people see no need to apologise for the massacre while a separate survey revealed that one-third of Poles doubt that villagers were involved in the killings.

Poles suffered badly under the Nazi occupation, with a fifth of its population dying.

One Jedwabne town councillor added: "People forget Jews were also saved by Poles."

The state body investigating war crimes, the National Remembrance Institute (IPN), has backed the new findings in the book, saying Poles had been involved. But it has also found evidence that German soldiers had been present.

Last month it unearthed the remains of about 200 victims during partial exhumations at a mass grave, far below the 1,600 figure believed to have died.

The IPN's full findings will be released at the end of the summer.

Jews are also unhappy with the memorial, saying the wording does not explicitly say the Jews were killed by their Polish neighbours, but instead were victims.

Before the war, Poland was home to half of the world Jewry. Many perished in the German concentration camps or in the ghettos.






RELATED STORIES:
RELATED SITES:
• Institute of National Remembrance
• Jews in Poland
• Jedwabne Tragedy
• Polish Institute of National Remembrance

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